You're never far from the water in Auckland, a city that has more recreational boats per capita than any other city in the world, earning it the name the ‘City of Sails'. Head out from its bustling harbour and city-centre attractions to discover idyllic islands and wineries in the Hauraki Gulf.
Despite being New Zealand's largest city and its commercial hub, Auckland rarely feels crowded, even in its centre. Here, life revolves around Viaduct Harbour – a buzzing centre for shopping, dining and nightlife. The revolving restaurant and viewing deck of the 328-metre Sky Tower is another attraction not to be missed. Indeed, given the right conditions, it's possible to see as far as the Coromandel Peninsula.
One of the great things about Auckland is that there's far more to the city than its downtown headlines. The surrounding suburbs of Ponsonby, Parnell, Newmarket and Devonport all offer something different, from boutique art galleries and weekend farmer's markets to hipster bars and cafes that add a touch of quirkiness and vibrancy. It's all easily explored from a city-centre base, with regular bus services connecting the various neighbourhoods in an easy-to-navigate loop.
The city extends across a wide area and much of it either overlooks or is near to bays, inlets, rivers and the twin harbours of Manakau and Waitemata. Wineries and wild beaches are all accessible from the city, whether you stay in the centre, a waterfront suburb or among the nearby Gulf islands. And, dotted around Auckland are the humps of 50 or so extinct volcanoes, some of which were once the site of Maori fortified villages, and which today afford wonderful views back across the city. An enjoyable day trip is a drive through the Waitakera Ranges to the white-sand beach at Piha on the west coast, a drive that takes you through some of New Zealand's most spectacular native forest.
Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf